Each year, almost 25 million children in the United States will play youth sports, and 1 in 3 young athletes will suffer an accidental injury. Dental injuries account for nearly 20% of all sports related injuries. Did you know that your child is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth when they aren’t wearing a mouth guard? It’s imperative that your child wears a mouth guard when they’re playing sports. Here’s why.
How do Mouth Guards Work?
Mouth guards – sometimes called mouth protectors – work by helping cushion a blow to the face, and minimizing the risk of breaking teeth, or lacerating a lip, tongue or cheek. The CDC estimates that more than 3 million teeth are knocked out at youth sporting events. Mouth guards work to prevent tooth loss and other facial injuries.
What Kind of Mouth Guard is Best?
There are a variety of mouth guards available today, and some are more effective than others. Regardless of the model, a mouth guard will help protect your child from oral and facial injuries.
Stock Mouth Guards
The most inexpensive, and least effective mouth guards are stock mouth guards. Stock mouth guards can be very bulky and ill-fitting, and they can make breathing very difficult. You can find them at most major sporting goods stores for very reasonable prices. We advise getting these if your child is in a sport with less contact, but for contact intensive sports like football or hockey, a fitted model will protect their teeth much better.
Boil and Bite Mouth Guards
The middle-of-the-road option in both price and quality is the boil and bite mouth guard. Boil and bite guards are made of rubber composites that become malleable when heated. When you buy one of these, they are packaged as “U” shaped pieces of rubber without indentation. After you boil it (read the manufacturer’s instructions before boiling), your child firmly bites into the guard so that it molds to fit their teeth. Boil and bite guards can be found at many major sporting goods stores, and they provide sufficient enough protection for high contact sports.
Custom-Made Mouth Guards
The best fitting and most effective mouth guards are custom-made mouth guards, which can be made for your child by a dentist that offers the service. Custom mouth guards are available in multiple materials, and affords them a mouth protector that is completely personalized to fit their teeth. Custom mouth guards fit the best and provide the most advanced protection.
Which Sports Require Mouth Guards?
The American Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouth guards for these popular sports: basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, skateboarding, skiing, soccer, volleyball, water polo and wrestling, among others. This is just a recommendation by the ADA. If you’re unsure about whether or not your child is required to wear a mouth guard, consult the rules of the sport.
Ask Us about Custom Fitting Mouth Guards
As your child’s pediatric dentist, we care about the protection of your child’s teeth and smile. We want to help you keep your child safe while they’re playing sports. Call our office today and ask us if we provide custom mouth guards for your student athlete. Together, we can help them enjoy the sport they love and keep their teeth safe from injury.